Must-See Secret in Vegas

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Photo from Turrell’s website

If you happen to travel through Las Vegas you really need to see Akhob, an incredible light art installation by the renowned James Turrell. Photographers, designers—anyone who works with light and color—as well as anyone interested in perception, psychology, brain science or spirituality will delight in this space. It is amazing, completely immersive and otherworldly, and it’s free. But you will need a reservation—only six people at a time are permitted into the installation every half hour.

Photography is not permitted once you’ve entered Akhob, so photos in this post are borrowed from the Internet—if they are yours please let me know so I can credit you! Two-dimensional photography does not do justice to this multi-sensory experience that bathes the visitor in gentle yet vibrantly colored light. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

First you enter a very dark reception room, designed to let your eyes calm and adjust. Two attendants dressed in white provide brief instructions such as don’t touch the walls (they stain easily), no food or drink, no photography, and ask you to sign a three-page release of liability form.

From there you walk down a dark corridor to a foyer at the base of a staircase. There is a round portal at the top of the staircase, making it seem like the entrance to a temple. Six chairs along the wall, three at either end, are where you will leave your belongings and remove your shoes, putting disposable shoe covers on your feet.

One at a time, you will be asked to ascend the stairs—there is no handrail—and enter the installation. One attendant goes first, and the second brings up the rear. Each person can begin going up once the last person has stepped over the portal. It’s eerie entering the chamber, hard to see the step into the portal, and hard to know how deep the step over is.

Once inside the portal the floor is flat (though it did feel angled), so walking around is easy. There are three chambers, Turrell calls them “ganzfelds” or “light fields,” each with a circular passage connecting it to the other. At the far end you look into the third chamber: a drop off into what seems to be a void. Of course no one may step beyond the second chamber. There is a sensor in place that, we were told, is hooked up to an alarm, to prevent people from falling.

Most people seem drawn to that second chamber, from which you marvel looking into the third. Subtly changing colors of blue, green, pink, red, orange, purple and yellow envelop you in the illusion of fog, provide you the experience of flying or floating, of peace and stillness, of being in the womb, in heaven or in space. Walls, floors and ceilings disappear and reappear; space and distance bend and blend. It is disorienting and liberating, relaxing and energizing. For me the experience was very much like meditation.

The color comes, apparently, from three places. Inside the round doorways of the first two chambers are circular lines of light that change color, while there is also an unseen light source from the third chamber. They blend together seamlessly to make edges and distinctions disappear.

From that second chamber you can also look back on the first. I would have sworn that the door at the top of the stairs, the one through which we entered, was closed. It was black and flat, locked off. But when I approached it to verify, it was, indeed, still open. I could see the stairway, the chairs and our worldly goods below, right where we had left them.

W Magazine describes Akhobin this way:

“For decades Turrell has created meticulous environments where the interplay of light and space renders basic perception a transcendental experience. Monumentalized as a master of quietude and subtlety, his work is surprisingly at home in Sin City. As a neon playground awash in a sea of nothingness, the extreme juxtaposition of barren beauty and unchecked consumerism affords his destabilizing projects maximum impact on over-stimulated tourists.”

Visitors are requested to maintain silence inside Akhob. The silence and stillness are a powerful aspect of the experience. You will be standing the entire time; I can see that chairs would ruin the visual cleanliness, and staying mobile adds to the full experience.

You’ll find Akhobon the upper level of the Louis Vitton store at Crystals at City Center—very private and secret. To make a reservation, call (702) 730-3150. Address is 3720 Las Vegas Blvd. S. NOTE: Reservations are normally booked six to eight weeks ahead, but they do have occasional openings if you’re lucky. They are open Thursday through Monday, 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Children under age 15 are not allowed.

We had seen and enjoyed another Turrell installation, The Way of Color, one of his numerous Skyspaces, at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, Arkansas a couple of years ago. Akhobwas night and day better. While the Skyspace plays with your perception and is fascinating, Akhobfeels much more transcendental, transporting your mind and spirit to other realms.

If you can’t get in to see Akhob, you can view another Turrell exhibit at Crystals, built into the ceiling of the monorail platform. You can view the rotating light on the platform itself, or from inside the shopping center through the geometric Libeskind oculi that are cut into the walls.

As for me, the next place I want to go is Roden Crater, once it opens, located in the Painted Desert of northern Arizona where I grew up. Turrell is transforming this cinder crater into a light, color and sky-viewing space reminiscent of the ancients but updated with modern technology.

Under the Big Top

I do love a good circus. And I especially love the aerialists: trapeze, tight rope, spinners, acrobats. Click on any image to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Circo Atayde Hermanos is here in Mazatlán for a couple of weeks. Their performance schedule is below. A girlfriend and I went recently and enjoyed it very much—we paid 200 pesos for very good seats. It’s a simple, classic circus, with clowns, jugglers, balancing acts, a guy who’s shot out of a cannon, motorcyclists riding inside a globe, and my beloved aerialists. The show is animal-free, as animals have been outlawed in circuses in Mexico since 2014.

What I really loved about this is that those kids selling popcorn, candy apples and toys are the performers themselves! So engage them in conversation and learn a bit about what they love about their lives and their job. Itzel, the girl with the loop on her head, told me she loves the traveling. She’s been all over Mexico and the US, and has hopes to get to Europe. She told me quite a few performers get trips to Europe for special performances. She studies with a teacher that the circus provides for the kids in the troupe.

Circo Atayde Hermanos is 130 years old this year. I have been told that it was actually founded in Mazatlán back in 1888, after the two Atayde brothers, who hailed from Zacatecas, fell in love with two sisters from El Rosario, and that Francisco Madera delivered his campaign speech under their tent here.

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Photo from the Atayde HMOs Facebook event page

The internet tells me (third-hand, as their own site doesn’t have a history) that the circus was founded in Zacatecas. Desiring to figure out the real story and get some behind-the-scenes photos and interviews, I arranged an appointment with them. Their local promotions director, however, is quite a piece of work and that interview very distastefully never happened. In its absence, enjoy the pics I did get!

 

Art Walk Golden Zone!

We love Art Walk/Camino de arte in our historic center, now there will be a new one in the Golden Zone! There are over two dozen artists in various media participating (painting, photography, sculpture, jewelry, drawing) and it looks to be a whole lot of fun! I will have Thru Di’s Eyes Photography at Athina Spa in the Golden Zone, and I hope to see you there!

The dates vary a bit due to Carnavál, etc., but Art Walk GZ will take place once a month on Wednesdays from 2 – 6 pm, so there will still be daylight and you can enjoy dinner afterward. Dates are: November 14, December 19, January 16, February 13, March 13 and April 10. Rumor has it there will be margaritas in the main office, Mazatlan4Rent.

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Below is a map of the participating locations, and there is also a Facebook page so that you can stay up to date, ask questions, or interact with the organizers and artists.

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Finally, below you will find a list of the participating artists and the event’s sponsors. Let’s join in and support our local art scene!

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Memories of Time

IMG_7016French Canadian artist Manon Côte has an exhibition of some very unique visual art pieces on display right now in the Galería Carlos Bueno at the art museum. I very much enjoyed meeting her and viewing both her artwork and that of her students.

She has made rubbings of some of the walls of antique homes and buildings here in town using a technique called “frottage,” which transfers the print to Japanese paper, and then adds watercolor or colored pencil to the prints. Manon is fascinated by the textures of the walls of Old Mazatlán. While she has been in town she also conducted a couple of workshops to teach others her techniques. I’m afraid I was so busy with my own show I missed those, but the results the students generated are quite fascinating. The exhibit opened Friday night during ArtWalk, and continues through April 30th. Manon will hold a conference on International Women’s Day, March 8.

Cecilia Sanchez Duarte (China) has really reinvigorated our beloved Museo de Arte, and has a full calendar planned for the spring. Be sure to visit if you haven’t lately!

Join My Photo Exhibit!


¡Puro Mazatlán, chiquita!

Click the link above to play the song while you read; it has a delayed start, so please be patient.

Please join me next week, Thursday March 1st at 7 pm in the Galería Peralta for the opening of a terrific photo show about the beauty and uniqueness that is Mazatlán. That evening will be the inauguration of my third one-woman photo show—the largest I’ve ever had (36 photos), sponsored by our beloved CULTURA Mazatlán, and this time in my own hometown!

Photo Exhibit by Dianne Hofner Saphiere
Yo Soy Fuereña Nací de Aquí Muy Lejos
I am a Foreigner Born Far Away from Here

Galería Peralta
(2nd floor of the theater)
7 pm Thursday March 1st
Free of charge

We will have music, drinks and eats at the inauguration, plus quite a few of the photo subjects tell me they will be present to talk with visitors. Sadly there is no elevator for handicapped accessibility, only the stairs. The exhibition will continue for six weeks, through 14th April. If you’d like reminders, just respond to our event on Facebook and you’ll get them. If you can’t make the grand opening, you can come another day to view it and sign the guest book.

I was so very honored when CULTURA Mazatlán Director Raúl Rico called me into his office last fall and asked me to do a photo exhibit on any topic of my choosing, in any gallery. Of course I chose our beloved adopted home as the subject of the expo; but for a theme? What better than our unofficial city anthem, the Corrido de Mazatlán? So many of us love that song, you here it everywhere around town, and I could make “mini-galleries” of photos according to the stanzas of the corrido. Raúl fortunately loved the idea, and I’ve been working hard ever since.

The gallery is huge, with 15 different walls for displaying photos under these stanzas:

  1. Donde el Pacífico es algo sin igual / Where the Pacific is beyond compare
  2. Para esta gente que es puro corazón / For these people who are all heart
  3. Y hasta en el faro se escucha mi canción / As far as the lighthouse you can hear my song
  4. Hay que bonito Paseo del Centenario / How beautiful is Paseo del Centenario
  5. Hay que bonita también su catedral / How beautiful also its cathedral
  6. Aquí hasta un pobre se siente millonario / Here even a poor person feels like a millionaire
  7. Aquí la vida se pasa sin llorar / Here life passes without tears
  8. El gran orgullo de ser de Mazatlán / The great pride to be from Mazatlán
  9. Que lindo es todo lo que hay en Mazatlán / How gorgeous is everything in Mazatlán

While many of you know me from this blog or from seeing me around town, here is my photographer’s bio:

Dianne has worked with people from over 100 countries during a 38-year career facilitating cross-cultural collaboration for major multinational organizations. USA-born, she has lived in Mazatlán since 2008, spent seven childhood summers in Coyoacán (Mexico City), and twelve years working in Japan.

Dianne documents daily life, community events and “human cultural treasures,” often through the lenses of ethnography. One critic says of Dianne’s work, “There is poetry all around us. Dianne pays attention and calls attention to that in a way of beauty. That is art.” Another says, “Looking Thru Di’s Eyes opens us to things we too often fail to notice. Dianne’s images transmit to us the soul of her subject; we feel we are experiencing it with her.”

Dianne has had solo shows in Paris and Vienna; her work has been selected for curated group exhibitions in Mazatlán, Tijuana, Culiacán, Paris, Vienna and Casablanca, as well as several state and local calendars. Her latest project is an edited volume of photographs called “Cliché or Consequential,” which focuses on debunking stereotypes from around the world. Proceeds will benefit refugees. Dianne’s photos can be purchased at Casa Etnika (Sixto Osuna 50) and Baupres Gallery (Heriberto Frías 1506).

Please invite your friends and family and come join me! I look forward to seeing you there!